Lobby group Amnesty International has condemned as “outrageous” the hanging of nine Sudanese men convicted of beheading a newspaper editor in 2006.

“They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial,” said the body’s deputy Africa director Tawanda Hondora.

They were hanged in a prison in the capital, Khartoum, in front of relatives of the editor, Mohammed Taha.

The men, from Darfur, were apparently upset by an article in Mr Taha’s paper.

His decapitated body was found on a dirt road a day after he had been abducted from his home in Khartoum.

Groups of women were wailing outside the jail after the executions, reports the Reuters news agency.

Ten people were initially convicted of the murder but one was later acquitted.

A defence lawyer said an article in Mr Taha’s al-Wifaq newspaper had angered members of the Darfur community by downplaying the scale of rape in the Darfur conflict and insulting women from the region.

Despite being an Islamist himself, Mr Taha had sparked angry demonstrations when in 2005 he reprinted an article questioning the roots of the Prophet Muhammad.

He was put on trial for blasphemy but the charges were later dropped.

Mr Taha had been the target of an assassination attempt five years previously after writing an article which criticised the ruling National Congress Party.

Despite his controversial past, thousands of weeping mourners attended Mr Taha’s funeral in September 2006.



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